HRT Music Streamer II
The HRT Music Streamer II is an asynchronous-mode USB audio converter, capable of high-end audio reproduction
- A great-sounding digital converter for your PC
The HRT Music Streamer II is a great-sounding digital converter for your PC. It's a costly item for its small size and simple construction, yet a great investment for its big, natural sound, bringing to life the music in your digital library.
Price$ 199.00 (AUD)
For most listeners, good digital sound from a computer is a fait accompli, a done deal. The built-in soundcard on a PC or laptop promises '20Hz to 20kHz' reproduction, so providing you play uncompressed WAV or lossless digital formats like FLAC or Apple Lossless (ALAC), you're getting sound as good as a CD player, right?
Well, not necessarily. Or less courteous to the efforts of PC makers, almost certainly not. For one thing, audio circuits hate computers.
Audio amplifiers and analogue circuits are easily upset by the interference from radio-frequency noise – such as the multi-megahertz clocks cycling all through a personal computer. So the first stride forward in sound quality is usually found by simply locating the digital-to-analogue converter (DAC) away from a noisy motherboard and its switch-mode power supply.
A quick-and-easy solution for this can be found in the shape of the USB audio adaptor. Working out of the box without additonal drivers or software on modern Macs and Windows PCs, these devices take raw digital data audio from the computer, with the minimum of fuss.
But audio data still needs some care in its transport, lest its precise timing is subtly smeared, leading to a form of audible distortion often dubbed jitter.
This can make for a harder, grittier sound with a looser sense of musical timing. In short, the sound may be rough-edged and glassy or vague and tuneless. Or all these things.
Adaptive versus asynchronous
Until recently, sending sound over USB relied on a default transmission protocol called adaptive-mode USB audio. In short, the essential clock timing signals needed in D-A conversion are derived here from the computer's clocks.
Like the long-standing S/PDIF interface used to connect CD players to outboard converters, a bi-phase clock recovery system is essential to recreate the timing pulses required to reassemble the binary stream correctly.
It kind-of works, but perhaps not as well as a more up-to-date system, known as asynchronous mode USB audio.
Asynchronous mode USB audio now has the host (the computer) and the outboard converter's clocks free-running relative to each other.
Crucially, the converter device itself dictates when data packets are sent from the host, ensuring a timely flow of data with no chance of overflow or underflow in the data buffer.
Put another way, rather than passively receive whatever the computer dishes out, asynchronous mode devices such as the HRT Music Streamer II take a much more pro-active role, telling the computer when to send data packets. And the final D-A conversion is referenced to a precision local clock, right inside the unit.
In the case of the HRT Music Streamer II, the digital input receiver module is actually a transceiver – able to transmit instructions back to the host as well as receive music data packets. HRT employs a Texas Instruments TAS1020B chip, under the guidance of the company's own custom firmware to do this critical work. Set up this way, interface jitter is said to be eliminated.
After this, a Burr Brown PCM1793 chip (specified for 24-bit/192kHz operation) carries out the actual D-A conversion in the HRT Music Streamer II, from digital bitstream into analogue music.
Care has also been taken to ensure good isolation between the computer and audio system, lest unwanted noise intrude into those precious audio circuits. HRT quotes a greater-than 20 megaohm isolation figure.
In practice, the HRT Music Streamer II appears as 24/96 device to the computer; a true audiophile standard. Which is not so surprising when you discover the pedigree of the HRT Music Streamer II.
HRT stands for High Resolution Technologies, and Mike Hobson of audiophile record label Classic Records. Both Halverson and Hobson have been championing the benefits of 24/96 audio since at least the early days of DVD in the late 1990s.
Kevin Halverson told us, 'Our goal has been to bring to the average person a bit of what makes a high end product worth the price of admission.'
Join the newsletter!
Breitling Superocean Heritage Chronographe 44
Nespresso Creatista Coffee Machine
Apple iPhone X
cloudandco Smart Cane
Dyson Supersonic™ Hair Dryer Fuchsia/Iron
Panasonic OLED 4K Ultra HD TV - TH-55EZ950U
Bang and Olufsen BeoVision 14
WD MY PASSPORT™ Gaming Storage
SanDisk MicroSDXC™ for Nintendo® Switch™
WD MY PASSPORT™ X Gaming Storage
Toys for Boys
Bose SoundLink Micro
Google Daydream View VR Headset
Leica M10 Digital Rangefinder Camera
Lego Mindstorms EV3
Onyx Smart Walkie Talkie
Ubiquiti Network’s Front Row Camera
LaCie Rugged USB-C Portable Hard Drive
Propel Star Wars T-65 X-Wing Drone
Nest Protect Smart Smoke Alarm
Amazon Echo Bluetooth Speaker
Panasonic Hi-Fi - SC-UA7GS-K
Panasonic 4K UHD Blu-Ray Player and Full HD Recorder with Netflix - UBT1GL-K
Xbox One X
iRobot Roomba 980 Vaccum Cleaning Robot
Belkin Pocket Power 10,000mAh
WD MY CLOUD™ HOME Personal Cloud Storage
Dearear Endear In-ear Wireless Earphones
PETKIG Go Smart Dog Leash
Toffee Bags Commuter Satchel
Urbanworx Full HD Action Camera
Razer DeathAdder Expert Ergonomic Gaming Mouse
Tile Pro Bluetooth Tracker
3SIXT 3-in-1 Smartphone Lens Kit
Panasonic Portable Splashproof Fun - RF-D20U
Lexon Flip Alarm Clock
Ikea NORDMÄRKE Wireless Charging Pad
Kogan Bluetooth Soundbar
Raspberry Pi Starter Kit
Logitech Doodle Collection Wireless Mouse
Most Popular Reviews
- 1 Huawei Mate 10 Pro Review: A solid winter flagship that cribs from the best
- 2 Google Pixel 2 review: not quite 'pixel perfect' but damn close
- 3 Huawei Nova 2i review: Flagship features get smuggled into the mid-tier
- 4 Moto X4 review: This is what a world without MotoMods looks like
- 5 Giabyte Aorus X9 Gaming Laptop review: Full, in-depth review
Latest News Articles
- The Razer BlackWidow Ultimate Will Now Resist the Elements
- Logitech Unveils MX ERGO, their first trackball in nearly a decade
- Nvidia unveils Pegasus, an AI computer that can power fully autonomous vehicles
- MSI's new Ryzen-ready motherboard coming to Oz
- Seagate Expands Portfolio with 12TB Drives for NAS and Desktop Computing
PCW Evaluation Team
It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.
Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.
The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.
The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.
The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic
I rate the printer as a 5 out of 5 stars as it has been able to fit seamlessly into my busy and mobile lifestyle.
- Huawei Mate 10 Pro review
- The Best Australian Black Friday Tech Deals That Aren't On Amazon
- Wolfenstein The New Colossus Review
- What's the difference between an Intel Core i3, i5 and i7?
- Laser vs. inkjet printers: which is better?
Product Launch Showcase
- CCTechnical LeadQLD
- FTSenior Business AnalystOther
- TPProcurement ManagerACT
- FTBusiness AnalystOther
- FTDisaster Recovery Technical Business AnalystOther
- CCSAS DeveloperNSW
- FTSAP Test ManagerACT
- TPSenior Siebel DeveloperACT
- FTPractice Director DevelopmentSA
- FTBusiness Project ManagerOther
- CCProject Manager (Payments compliance & Cards)VIC
- FTBusiness AnalystOther
- FTSenior Technical ConsultantACT
- CCBusiness Solution Architect / Senior Business AnalystNSW
- CCAnalyst Programmer / DeveloperNSW
- CCBusiness AnalystNSW
- FTDigital Marketing Specialist - Senior roleOther
- CCLevel 1 Help DeskNSW
- FTManagement Consultant - ConsultancyOther
- FTNetwork and Systems EngineerWA
- FTSenior .NET DeveloperWA
- FTSenior .NET Developer - Back EndOther
- CCCRM Technical ConsultantWA
- FTPayments Business AnalystVIC
- CCLevel 1 Service deskNSW